All those ‘slide into home base all used up’ declarations bug me. As EverythingBecky, I get it that of course we want to see it all, feel it all, experience this joy ride on Earth in an excruciatingly associated way, meaning first hand. The ‘used up’ idea feels like pressure, a deadline. In journalism, if a story misses its time for publication, it is deemed ‘killed’ for that edition. Sheesh! I’m kinda not digging that because a graceful exit is what I’m after…and not for a long while! In our Western cultures, we live in fear of dying. Is that because there are so many choices? So much to be experienced? Because we are insatiable? When I’m walking on a narrow path on stilts above the sea in a village in remotest Indonesia, the pastimes are to sit and talk, eat and sleep. I’m not sensing that frenetic drive to fit all of life in. There, the elderly are revered for their wisdom and longevity. Then I return to my life in California where there’s an obsession with youth and fitness and beauty and style. It’s double-edged. Upside: beneficial influential environment for my health, appearance, so much stimulation. Downside: fear-based dread, ridiculous hanging on by the fingernails to what should be the next generation’s choices. So what is that balance? Somewhere between throwing in the towel and Joan Rivers’ comedic repertoire of obsessive cosmetic procedures up until age 81. May she RIP.
A few years ago when approaching a ‘birthday’ I got a letter in the mail inviting me to join AARP. With disgust I ceremoniously threw it in the trash unopened. I still throw them away. But I faced that music a couple of weeks ago. Invited to a twilight summer concert, I thought I was going to hear ensembles of military bands play an hour of music in Balboa Park under the stars sipping Pinot Noir. What I walked into was God’s Waiting Room. Lined up along the sidewalk were walkers in all colors. Seated in chairs were hundreds of elderly folks, some dressed patriotically, some under the care of senior assisted living orderlies. Before the music began I was given the gift of observation without judgement. I was the outcast here, most others had about 30 to 40 years on me.
I was given the gift of internal vision that night. Avoidance and denial only magnify fear. Since my own parents died in their 60’s, I’ve rarely looked at the elderly past the exterior parts that I don’t want to see in my own mirror. I credit my healthy lifestyle to my quest for knowledge, my physicality and intentional athleticism and my spiritual beliefs in practice. But I had placed such a barrier around the idea of being ‘elderly’ that I was blinded in my avoidance. These folks represented multitudes of stories of the triumphs and tragedies they’d endured. They were kind and applauded each soloist, every song. A few got up and danced to the 40’s music and in the distance I witnessed a woman who brought me to tears. She was dressed in her red, white and blue dancing a two-step rhythm to the big band sounds of the Navy Show Band. With her blue walker as her dance partner. I saw devotion and kindness in the faces of couples who held one another’s fragile looking mottled hands. Partners still together after all those decades. And the others, who face life alone yet were in this mutual community of the aging. One lesson Life reminds me is that this human existence includes it all. Bliss and optimism, fear and heartache and the dark nights of the soul. None of us are immune. But as Andrew Harvey writes in The Hope, we can choose ‘pain to be our midwife’.
We prepare for births. But we avoid preparing for dying and death. We can predict what one is, but the other evades us, the outcome merely a hope or a guess. Esther Hicks has said and I agree that I want to be happy, healthy, happy, healthy, happy, healthy, dead. But that isn’t always what is meant to be for us. Another friend told me that Beatle George Harrison was congratulated by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi upon his diagnosis of lung cancer, that he would have time to enjoy friends caring for him, and time to prepare for his transition. He died at 58. Which is better? I don’t know. With the advancements in medicine and wellbeing, longevity is being increased so I could be here decades longer or gone in the next 15 minutes. What I do know is that I want to evolve as a person of compassion, kindness, open and nonjudgemental, use the gifts given to me, discover some I don’t know yet and love and enjoy my friends, family and life. I can do that. I can look death in the face, not as a pariah or a black cloaked demon I’m running from. I believe that Divine Love will ask us in the end to die into it.
Taking inventory of life so far is a good thing. It’s never a bed of roses all the time. It’s been it’s own kaleidoscope of all things good, some things not so much. The death trap is comparing our lives to someone else with the faulty thinking that ‘It must be nice’ because we can never truly know. At Balboa Park that evening, looking at that sea of beautiful faces and lives lived, friends made and lost, music remembered, kindness treasured, Life gave me a huge gift. My inventory of my life thus far includes my loves, my travels, my friendships and discoveries but now also includes how I want to live this day. I want to have my Spirit in order. I want to embrace health in a way that honors my body so I’m capable of enjoying my life and my kids and their kids. I want a semblance of orderliness in my possessions and affairs. I want to leave gifts and surprises after I’m gone for those I’ve loved. I hope to have someone say, “Wow, she jumped into life with both feet! And, she was a loving and inspirational compassionate soul who contributed to my life. Now what’s for lunch?”! I want to slide into The Great Hereafter grateful, satisfied and ready for what’s next!
Thank you dear friend for enriching my life as one who reads my messages. Please share with me how you plan for the next ‘journey’. A good friend of mine told me of her father’s will and how he elaborately planned wonderful unexpected events and gifts for people he connected with during his life to be presented after he was gone. Those stories are amazing! I’ll share mine with you as I go and we can borrow the best from one another!
Love to you!